Environment Agency fisheries enforcement teams continued their clampdown on illegal fishing over the weekend in Yorkshire.
Enforcement officers visited 18 fisheries across the region on Saturday 22 August and Sunday 23 August, checking a total of 235 anglers. Officers reported 49 anglers (21 per cent) for fisheries offences.
Patrols focused on a range of illegal fishing and fishing without a valid rod licence.
Peter Mischenko, fisheries officer at the Environment Agency in Yorkshire said:
The number of anglers caught red-handed is testament to how seriously we take illegal fishing but worryingly it shows a blatant disregard for the law and the health of fisheries.
People who don’t buy a licence are not only cheating other anglers and the future of the sport but running the risk of criminal conviction and a fine. There is no excuse – it costs just £27 for a whole year and you can buy it from the Post Office website.
Officers have visited over 100 waters across Yorkshire this year looking for fishing offences.
The maximum fine for fishing without a rod licence is £2,500 – and an annual licence costs just £27.
The Environment Agency’s work is intelligence-led, meaning that work is targeted on areas where there are reports of evasion or are known illegal hotspots.
Nationally, last year (2014/2015), Environment Agency officers checked more than 70,000 licences and prosecuted more than 2,100 licence cheats. Between them, they were ordered to pay fines and costs in excess of £500,000.
In Yorkshire, last year officers checked 7,027 anglers resulting in 520 of them being reported for various fisheries offences but mainly for fishing without a licence.
In the same year 248 offenders were prosecuted with an average fine of £228.
To help crack down on unlicensed fishing the Environment Agency urges anyone to report illegal activity by calling 0800 80 70 60.
Money raised from rod licence sales is invested in England’s fisheries, including a wide range of projects to improve facilities for anglers, manage predation, protect stocks from illegal fishing, plus fish restocking, invasive species eradication, habitat improvements, and working with partners to encourage people to take-up fishing for the first time.
Annual rod licences for trout and coarse fishing remain at £5 for 12 to 16 year olds, £18 for senior and disabled concessions and £27 for non-concessions. Children under 12 can fish for free. Buying a licence online from the Post Office website saves time and administration costs, which means more of the income can be spent on improving fish stocks and fishing.
Anglers can also buy a rod licence by calling the Post Office on 0344 800 5386 or by visiting any Post Office branch.
Alternatively, you can buy your licence through the Angling Trust’s mobile-configured website, www.fishinginfo.co.uk. Whether at home or on the move, anglers can use this website to get details of thousands of fisheries, tackle shops, clubs and coaches, plus all the latest angling weather and river levels.